Did you know that the fonts you use on your website can impact the way your customers perceive and interact with your brand?
Psychologists suggest that fonts influence people at the supraliminal level and can impact everything from how much people trust your brand to how well they remember it.
Font designers and font library creators Monotype Fonts says ‘Consumers can instinctively sense when a typeface isn’t hitting the mark, and it has an emotional impact that’s hard to quantify.
“Would you follow directions from a motorway sign set in Comic Sans? Or take out home insurance from a company using Papyrus? If not, why not?”
There’s so much information on font psychology out there. Books and dissertations have been written on the topic and countless research papers have been published on the subject, too.
So, in this blog, we round up a few actionable research-based tips and outline some initial food for thought relating to how you can begin to harness the power of fonts on your own website.
- Use serif fonts to convey quality
Serif fonts are those that have little flourishes on the ends of strokes. For example, the ends of the vertical and horizontal lines in the letter T won’t stop abruptly and squarely in a serif font. Instead, there will be some sort of flick or embellishment on the ends of every line in the letter.
Research by Monotype Fonts found that when the word ‘quality’ was written in a serif font, readers judged the brand behind the word to be 9% more trustworthy than when it was written in a sans serif font (aka a font without the flourishes).
- Use handwriting fonts to build a bond with customers
According to a 2018 study, using a font that mimics human writing can make people feel more emotionally attached to products.
This emotional attachment can, in turn, lead consumers to perceive products more positively.
The psychologists behind this study explained that this is because handwritten typefaces create perceptions of human presence, which is increasingly important in a world where – as the study’s authors explain – increasing mechanisation, automation and digitisation is creating a ‘loss of a sense of humanness’.
- Pick a font with a personality that aligns with your brand values to increase sales
Psychologists agree that every font has its own distinct personality.
Graphic designer and font researcher Sarah Hyndman has spent years researching these personalities. On her website Type Tasting she invites visitors to answer all sorts of questions about fonts, from ‘what job would this font have’ to ‘what shoes would a typeface be?’.
According to participants in this research, Bauhaus would write comedy articles, be a bartender or a record shop employee, own a bagel shop or be a cabaret lounge host.
Copperplate, meanwhile, would be a professor, accountant or business owner in the financial sector.
A research paper printed in the Journal of Business Research in 2004, found that participants were twice as likely to choose products that had a typeface that was deemed ‘appropriate’ for that product.
- Be mindful of using too many complex fonts on the same website
Sarah Hyndman says ‘combining multiple display typefaces can look like you’re throwing a fancy dress party’.
This sense of chaos and fun might be just the impression you want to create with your website.
However, if you want to be taken a little bit more seriously, it’s best to stick to one or, at most, two display fonts per page.
- Use fonts that are slightly harder to read to improve recall
Research suggests that people remember information better when they read it in a slightly harder-to-read font.
This is because ‘disfluency’ aka the subjective experience of difficulty associated with cognitive operations leads to deeper processing.
Of course, ‘harder-to-read’ means a font like a serif font, rather than one that’s completely illegible.
In other studies, presenting information in a slightly harder-to-read font helped readers ignore distractions like background noises.
- Choose narrow fonts to appear modern and contemporary
Research indicates that people see narrow fonts as being much more modern and contemporary than fatter fonts.
So, if you want to seem sleek and on the ball, consider the width of the fonts you use on your website.
- Pick a slab serif font to seem confident and bold
Slab serif fonts are a subset of serif fonts that have squared-off flourishes as opposed to flicks or curls.
Research suggests that consumers view these sorts of fonts as bold, confident and – sometimes – quirky.
Need a website before you can fill it with fonts?
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